Mallesons Stephen Jaques partner Emilios Kyrou has been appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court, making him only the second private practitioner directly appointed to the Victorian Court.
Tony Burke, president of the Law Institute of Victoria, emphasised the significance of the appointment of a lawyer to the Court.
“We’re particularly pleased with the announcement that one of our members has been appointed as a judge: he's the second solicitor to be appointed to the Supreme Court and it’s been a long time since the first one,” he said.
The first lawyer-turned-judge in Victoria, Justice Teague, retired in February this year. The appointment of Kyrou as his successor has personal significance for both men.
“There’s a certain coincidence in that, because I started out doing articles at Corrs Westgarth Chambers in 1983 and my very first rotation was in litigation,” said Kyrou. “The very first day in the office I was sharing an office with Bernie Teague.”
The career paths of the two Victorian lawyers have mirrored each other since. Teague was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1987, while Kyrou was appointed to partner at Corrs in 1988.
Fast forward to 2008; Justice Teague retires from the Supreme Court and Kyrou is appointed to the court only a few months later.
“There is a nice little irony in all of that, which is quite amusing,” Kyrou says. “He was a mentor and a good friend and has remained so over the years. I valued his guidance and teachings in those early years and the discussions and conversations we’ve had since.
“More recently I have been speaking to him and it’s been very helpful in just giving me some suggestions about how to ease into the role.”
Kyrou will, no doubt, be speaking to former Justice Teague regularly as he takes on the challenges of life on the other side of the bench. Mastering the rules of evidence and procedure will be his first task in the job: “I think, initially, there will be some fast reading and fast learning in terms of the rules of evidence and procedure,” Kyrou said.
In addition, he will be facing the challenge of “moving from an international organisation which is very well resourced” into “a situation where essentially it’s a matter of handling submissions with [only] the assistance of an associate of staff or personal assistant.”
He will also be leaving behind the highs and lows of litigation, an area in which he has excelled throughout his career at both Corrs and Mallesons.
“I think I will miss private practice in the sense that I have enjoyed it immensely since 1984,” Kyrou said. “I will miss the collegiality and the friendships at Mallesons. It’s a comfort zone that you grow into.
“However the challenge of actually being at the heart of the administration of justice — rather than as a participant — excites me more than being an advisor or a solicitor involved in litigation.
“I’m looking forward to contributing to the administration of justice and the development of the law. So, yes, I will miss being a partner in a major law firm but I’m going to be very, very happy as one of the judges.”
Mallesons Chief executive partner Robert Milliner congratulated Kyrou on his appointment, but admitted his departure represents the loss of a significant asset to the firm,
“Emilios has made a significant contribution to Mallesons as a senior partner in the Dispute Resolution Group in our Melbourne office,” Milliner said. “He has been highly valued at Mallesons and the firm will miss his contribution.”